Though I’m usually based in Kyobashi, I’ve recently been filling for Martin over in Kotoen by teaching a few classes. As one of our franchise English schools it is perhaps one of the more unusual due to the way that the lessons are set up.
During my time there I had one particularly memorable experience that emphasized the lesson difference. A student had booked in two successive lessons, which, at least in Kyobashi isn’t so very unusual. My partner in teaching, and the other familiar cornerstone of Kotoen, Heidi, taught the first lesson. Between classes at Kotoen is a half-hour break, and the student asked if he absolutely had to leave the building between classes. We, of course, said no… but that there were some things we’d need to attend to.
I made the student and myself a cup of tea and he quite happily sat and chatted with me while I went through various tasks of preparing the lesson and tying up the loose ends of the last lesson. I thought I might find it difficult to concentrate with his extra presence, but he was polite and understanding and I finished up quickly.
We got on to the topic of English food, and as it happened I’d noticed an English cookbook as part of the school library. We had a look at this, and discussed various very English dishes, including ones that we might not want to know how to make – black pudding for example!
Our conversation naturally segued into the lesson I had planned for him, containing the second restaurant routine and making requests item. Surprisingly, my student found the item more challenging than the more open discussion we had been enjoying. The contrast in his English in the two exercises was quite remarkable. Secretly I found it satisfying to be able to work on some of his weaknesses that showed up in the structured lesson.
I wouldn’t encourage students lingering too much, but it was the end of the night and this lucky student ended up with an hour and a half long second lesson with me, and had the opportunity to exercise his English on many varied tasks!